Archive for November, 2009

Mark of the Endangered Beast

Tuna sushi
Originally uploaded by adactio

A technique known as DNA barcoding is helping investigators identify mislabeled endangered species to help keep them in the oceans and off our dinner plates. Conscientious consumers want to enjoy sushi from sustainable sources, but doing so is difficult when restaurants and markets mislabel species or are not specific in their labeling. Researchers from the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History studied tuna sold at restaurants in New York City and Denver, Colorado. Their results, published in the open access journal PLoS One, reveal that almost half of the restaurants did not accurately label the tuna and that nearly a third of the tuna was bluefin, which due to over-fishing is currently being considered for CITES protection. The long-term application for the research would be a hand-held scanner that wildlife management teams could use to correctly identify species before they wind up in your bento box. Read more at Discovery News.


Endangered Crocs Hiding Right Under Everyone’s Snout

An unknown population of one of the world’s most critically endangered crocodiles was recently found hiding in an unexpected place–a Cambodian wildlife rescue center. DNA samples taken from 69 of the reptiles at the rescue center showed that 50% of them were Siamese crocodiles, which were at one time believed to be extinct in the wild. The Siamese crocodile population has been decimated by poaching and habitat loss. The remaining wild crocodiles, believed to number around 250, live in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, where they are threatened by new hydropower dams being built in their habitat. The discovery of this captive population of Siamese crocodiles is important because it opens up new possibilities for breeding and releasing animals into areas not threatened by the dams. Read the full story at USA Today.


Brown Pelicans Fly Off Endangered Species List

Brown Pelican Flight Lines
Originally uploaded by Fort Photo

The brown pelican population has now rebounded to the point where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced its removal from the Endangered Species list. At one time, the brown pelican was decimated by the effects of pesticides such as DDT and Endrin, which were banned in the early 1970s. Pelican numbers have soared from around 10,000 in 1970, the year the birds were declared endangered, to an estimated 650,000 today that are spread across Florida, the Gulf and Pacific coasts, and the Caribbean and Latin America. Read more about this triumph at The Daily Reveille or


Inventor Responsible for Famous Nessie Fin Photo Dies at 87

Inventor Robert H. Rines, an inventor and pioneer in the area of sonar technology (among many other accomplishments) has died of heart failure at the age of 87. The sonar systems developed by Dr. Rines, who held more than 80 patents, helped find the wrecks of the Titanic and the Bismarck. But in cryptozoology circles, he is equally famous for his underwater photos of the Loch Ness Monster, including one that seems to show the fin of the creature. The underwater photographs hang in the American Inventors Hall of Fame. Dr. Rines became interested in the Loch Ness Monster after seeing the creature for himself in the early 1970s during a tea party at a friend’s house. He described the creature as being about 45 feet in length and looking like a plesiosaur. Detailed obituaries (showing the fin photo) can be found at U.S. News and World Report and The Daily Mail.